“Should Have Worn Gloves” (18 miles)

Sometimes people ask me what I think about on long runs. Well, here’s what I thought about today during 18 miles in the freezing rain:

“Damn, I should have worn gloves.”
“Latte. As soon as I’m done, I’m getting a latte.”
“Hot shower. Long. Hot. Shower.”

If you don’t think those three thoughts are enough to occupy your mind for three hours, you’ve never done a long run on a wet, cold day.

***

I know lots of runners who dread the long, slow run, but it’s the highlight of my week.  Two days after finishing my 22 mile run last week, I started fantasizing about this week’s 18 mile run.  The anticipation of running 3 hours gets me through the week, and gives me something to look forward to after a week of teaching.  What I was anticipating, however, was a long run in the crisp, autumn sunshine, and until yesterday that’s what the forecast said to expect.  So I was somewhat disappointed to wake up to grey skies and a chance of rain.

Still, a long run is a long run, and it wasn’t that cold or that rainy.  I had already arranged to have A’s mom come over and help look after the kids, which worked out nicely as I could head out without taking Nat in the rain.  It also gave me a chance to do a run with the gear I’m planning on carrying for the Brooklyn marathon and the 50K: my REI Waistpack for water, gel, camera, and phone; and my Ultimate Direction hand-held bottle for HEED and more gels.  I pulled on my rain jacket, kissed A and the kids, and headed out into the rain.

***

About six blocks from home, I wondered whether I should have brought my gloves, but decided it wasn’t worth going back for them, since my hands always get to warm anyway.  (I would spend the next few hours regretting that decision.)  I took my typical route to Prospect Park, then did a few loops of the top half while waiting for my friends Shannon and John to meet up with me.  By this point it was pouring, and the temperature was dropping to the low thirties.  I pulled my sleeves over my hands the best I could, but my fingers still went numb pretty quickly, which made fumbling gels out my wait-pack pretty tricky.

John and Shannon both met me at around 10, at which point I’d been running for about an hour and a half, and they joined me for a full loop of the park.  I written about how I usually prefer to run alone, but I must stay that company for part of a three hour run in the freezing rain helps a lot; I could have done it all alone, but it was much nicer to have some conversation and something to think about other than how wet my toes were and how much I was looking forward to a nice, hot latte at the end of the run.

After a loop of conversation and catching up, John and Shannon both left for their respective apartments, and I did one more loop of the top of the park (I ran the hill at the North end of the park 6 times), then I headed back home.  By that point, all I could think of was the hot coffee I was buying myself the second I got to Common Ground.

***

And yet, I wasn’t miserable.  In fact, I enjoyed my run as much as I do most runs, despite the cold hands and wet feet.  In an odd way, I was glad for the inclimate weather, since it gave me a chance to run in some less-than-ideal conditions.  After all, my 50K is on January 7th, so it isn’t likely to be a nice, crisp 50 degrees.  Part of completing an ultra is moving forward while uncomfortable, and I passed that test in flying colors (if I do say so myself).

The gear passed as well.  The ultra I’m running is three laps of an 11 mile loop, so I’ll be able to restock on food and water every 11 miles.  Between my hand-held and my waist-pack, I had enough liquid and gels for the entire run, and both were relatively comfortable the entire time.

***

So week three went well.  I did drop my run Wednesday (I stayed home from work to take Nat to the doctor), and didn’t do my 10 mile recovery run today, but as I’ve said, I’m fine with fitting my training around my rather full life.  Even with those two missed runs, I’m ending October with a new high point — 150 miles for the month, which is 10 miles more than my previous high from August of ’08.  That might be the number of miles that Anton Krupicka does in a week, but for me it feels pretty good.

With that, I’m off to the woods for a week.  My school has a partnership with Outward Bound, and part of Freshman year is a week long camping trip on a wilderness preserve in the Hudson Valley.  So until next Friday its going to be me, an Outward Bound coordinator, and 12 kids from East Flatbush in the woods.  Wish me luck!

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About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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